I read this book some months ago, but I forgotted to post a review. I’m doing it now because the author, Andrea Gilbey, will be at Destinations Booksellers in New Albany, Indiana on April 19, 2016, 6pm, to sell and sign BOTTLETOPS FOR BATTLESHIPS: SYLVIE’S WAR.
Andrea is a friend of a friend and has also become my friend, and I asked her about the book. She said “about 70%” of the book was imagined, based on stories and bits of memory her mother shared with her. I would never have known that, because Andrea’s imagination is so full and so insightful I absolutely believed in every detail. I felt I was present, immersed in the life of a British child during the Second World War.
BOTTLETOPS FOR BATTLESHIPS follows Sylvie, who is nearly five when the war begins, through to the end of the war. The book’s title refers to a scrap drive that specified collecting bottletops to aid the war effort.
But the book isn’t about the war directly; it’s about the life of a little girl, surrounded by family and friends, as she grows up in a world at war — a world that is as baffling to adults as the world always is to a child.
Andrea Gilbey does a brilliant job of leading us to enter that world, to worry and laugh and cry and celebrate along with Sylvie and her family. I’m told she’s working on a sequel. I can’t wait!
BOTTLETOPS FOR BATTLESHIPS is only available in print, but that’s okay; you’ll want it in print, anyway.
Oh, and it’s great for reading aloud. I read it aloud to my mother, who has slight dementia. She was a young teen during the Second World War; although the British experience of the war was far different from the experience in the American midwest, a lot of the feelings and sacrifices were the same, and the book sparked a lot of memories for her. A pleasure for both of us.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Think of or ask about an event in an older person’s life and turn it into a story.